Diabetes is the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet. Diabetes affects the lives of nearly 26 million people in the United States and nearly seven million don’t even know they have the disease yet.
While there is no cure for diabetes, there is hope. With proper diet, exercise, medical care, and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life. Today’s podiatrist plays a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications.
Diabetes warning signs involving the feet and ankles include the following:
- Skin color changes
- Swelling of the foot or ankle
- Numbness in the feet or toes
- Pain in the legs
- Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
- Ingrown and fungal toenails
- Bleeding corns and calluses
- Dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel
Because diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, successful management requires a team approach. Today’s podiatrist is an integral part of the treatment team and has documented success in preventing amputations.
More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes.
After an amputation, the chance of another amputation within three to five years is as high as 50 percent.
Including a podiatrist in your diabetes care can reduce the risk of lower limb amputation up to 85 percent and lowers the risk of hospitalization by 24 percent.
The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert.